Passenger backs campaign for action

A VICTIM of a car crash caused by a driver using her mobile phone has backed a campaign calling for Government action to stop cuts to the number of traffic police officers.

Lorna Foley, 21, suffered a six-inch gash on her forehead, deep cuts to her left arm, a fractured wrist and dislodged vertebrae after a driver who was using a mobile phone pulled into the path of the vehicle she was a passenger in.

The crash happened in August 2010, and Ms Foley, of Rushden, is still recovering from back and brain injuries.

Ms Foley is supporting a campaign by the road safety charity Brake to stop cuts to the number of traffic police.

She said: “The driver who injured us was more concerned with making a call than the lives of other road users or even herself.

“It was such a horrendous experience, but it could have been much worse. It is vital there are enough traffic police out there to deter selfish and dangerous actions, like using a phone at the wheel.”

Figures released by Brake, following a Freedom of Information request, showed Northamptonshire Police to have one of the lowest levels of traffic officers in the country – just 44 traffic officers, down from 47 in 2009.

This is lower than all but one of the statistically similar-sized police forces in the UK, including Cheshire with 104, Kent 124, Devon and Cornwall 61, Staffordshire 63, and Leicestershire 75. Warwickshire Police has 10 traffic officers.

Ms Foley said: “It makes me very angry when I see drivers on their mobile phones and it does concern me that the same thing that happened to me could happen to somebody else, if not me again.

“I don’t think the deterrent [six points on a licence] is enough. People think they can concentrate on more than one thing at once, but the driver who crashed into me was in her 60s and an experienced driver.”

Chief Inspector of Specialist Operations at Northamptonshire Police Dave Lawson said: “Though we have to balance our resources carefully in the current financial climate we are confident that there has been no significant change in our approach to the policing of our roads.

“We continually target the Fatal Four causes of serious road traffic collisions – driving under the influence of drink or drugs, using a mobile phone, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt – with proactive operations.”